Behind every good web page are codes only the search engines read. These codes help the search engines match your page with requests from their searchers.
There are two types of codes - or “meta tags" - that you care about. One is keywords and the other is the description.
Keywords are words and phrases associated with your site. If you’re selling a book on how to housebreak your dog, for example, your keywords might include “puppy, housebreaking, house break, paper train, dogs, puppies" and others.
There are several rules of thumb you want to follow when working with keywords:
1. List the words in the order of importance. Some search engines only take the first 10 words; others the first 50 words, etc. You can’t have too many keywords, but it is important to list them in order.
2. Use multiple spellings of the word if searchers are likely to use different forms. For example, puppy is different from puppies in the eyes of a search engine. Likewise, housebreak and house break are different.
3. Use the plural. If someone looks for “dog" it will be found in the word “dogs. " On the other hand, if they look for “dogs" it will not be found in “dog. " Be safe - use plurals.
4. Use lower case letters. With only 1 or 2 exceptions search engines ignore capitalization. So if someone looks for “Dogs" they will find “dogs. " On the other hand, if they look for “dogs" they may or may not find “Dogs" since the search engine might consider it a proper name.
5. Use the language of your customers. If you’re a professional you might search for “canines" but most customers are more likely to look for “dog. " So while you can include the more technical term, do so last in the list.
Your description is the other meta tag you want to write. Your description is what shows in the results of the search engine. It’s generally 2-3 lines long.
What happens if you don’t include a description? Often the search engine will make up its own description - taking the first several lines of your web page or the first few lines of code. Neither option is as attractive as the description you will write.
Remember that the purpose of the description is to make the site sound so attractive to your target audience that they want to click on your link in the search engine. So your best benefits and reasons why they want to visit your site should be in the description.
Finally, to really help the search engines find your site, use a descriptive title on each page. The title is what shows in the top bar of your browser. It’s what is listed in Favorites when someone sets a favorite or bookmarks your site. So you want the title to tell people what they will find when they visit the page.
For every page in your site, you should have a unique title, keywords for that specific page, and a traffic-pulling description. Yes, it is time-consuming to do that, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll be more likely to lead searchers to your page when they can see what they want in your title, your keywords or your description.
Dr. Jeanette Cates is an Internet strategist who works with experts who are ready to turn their knowledge and their websites into Gold. Her reputation as a speaker and trainer has earned her the title of The Technology Tamer. Jeanette shares her news and views in OnlineSuccessNews.com